I had a conversation tonight with a friend that is breastfeeding her 4 month old. They had a few issues to start off where baby was unable to latch, so she pumped and fed her bottles. She worked through it and now baby can suckle just fine. Her baby’s doctor (not a pediatrician) advised her that baby needed more ounces based on her age, explaining that babies increase intake as they get older. My friend has been stressing over this and began supplementing with formula. Since she has started her supplementation, her baby has been gassy and a little more fussy than she used to be.
I would like to make it known loud and clear…breastfed babies DO NOT generally increase milk intake during 1 to 6 months (unless during a growth spurt and it is for a short time and will go back down). This is because babies metabolize breast milk (efficiently) and formula (not so efficiently) differently. Formula also has the same ingredients from day one until the baby no longer uses it. The nutrition available in it does not change, so babies have to drink more to get all of the nutrients that they need. With breast milk, it changes as baby grows to meet all of the nutritional needs, causing them to only need a consistent number of ounces. Usually this is between 2.5 to 5 ounces per feeding. After 6 months (or whenever solids are introduced) milk intake will generally decrease some. Kellymom has a great explanation of this and an expressed breastmilk calculator to determine the amount of milk a working mother might need for her baby.
The amount of breast milk that babies need is always a question for new moms, especially when compared to a friend’s (or someone that they know’s) formula fed baby. Breast milk is one of the most nutrient dense foods and able to 100% sustain life for your newborn, no need to supplement (save that money for college or something) 🙂